The Good Republican (As Of May 3)

Representative John Kriesel is getting plaudits from the crowd that normally wouldn’t spit on a Republican if he were on fire, because he opposes the GOP’s Marriage Amendment proposal:

John Kriesel, R-Cottage Grove, is the first Republican in the Minnesota Legislature to announce his opposition to a proposed amendment to the Minnesota Constitution that would ban same-sex marriage, according to the Star Tribune. The bill has cleared a committee each in the Minnesota House and Senate, and Kriesel said he’s working hard to convince his Republican colleagues that the amendment is a bad idea.

“I look at it as: We are all equal,” Kriesel told the Star Tribune. “It is not right. I can’t do it. I’m very upset about this vote. I don’t like it. I think it sends the wrong message. You live once in your life and I’ve learned that the hard way. You never know when it is going to be your time. People fight to find happiness….You find someone you love and now other people are saying because I don’t consider that normal, you can’t do it?”

Two things to set straight first:

One: I have nothing but respect for Rep. Kriesel.  He’s earned it, over and over.  The fact that he got elected to the House was one of the most satisfying victories of a very satisfying election season last year.

Second: As a libertarian-conservative, I’m perfectly fine with letting people live their lives their own way; I support legalizing many drugs, and support civil unions as a civil contract.

But I – along with a sharp majority of Minnesotans – believe Marriage is a fundamentally religious institution, above and beyond its status as a civil contract.  Every one of the world’s religions, barring the odd splinter (shaddap about Episcopals), agrees.

And when we say “marriage is, to us, a religious institution”, the best argument the gay marriage proponents have come up with so far is “no it’s not”.

Which is where I have to push back.  “Marriage” is really two different things, depending on who you ask;

  • it’s a set of contractually-defined rights (from inheritance to power of attorney to standing in custody trials during divorce) and obligations (most noticable when things don’t go well)
  • It’s an ordination for one’s Creator that you and another person are ordained to be together.

Of course, not everyone believes in the same Creator, or even that there is one; notwithstanding this, we are all created (by whatever you think created us) equal before the law of the land.

Most of the gay marriage activists I’ve heard are after the former; the latter seems to draw fewer (although there are plenty of people who want to induce major Christian denominations to recognize gay unions).

So there’s the dilemma for the principled libertarian Christian; in a secular sense, I can agree with Rep. Kriesel, that in re forbidding gays from forming civil contracts

“It’s just wrong,” Kriesel said. “There is not anything that can move me on this.”

…while on the other hand being equally unmoved to renounce what I (and most Minnesotans) believe about the sacred institution of marriage.

In a sense, I think the Amendment would be a good thing for the proponents of gay marriage, inasmuch as it’d force them to state a case for radically changing the institution that sways the people.  The gay movement’s current strategy is to take everything to court (or to radically “progressive” legislatures), and chant that everyone that opposes them is a “hateful” “bigot”.  They desperately need to do better, if they want to convince anyone but a judge.

Especially someone like me – who doesn’t believe marriage is a “right” (or even necessarily a great idea), even for straight couples, but that equal protection before the law absolutely always is.

It’ll be interesting to see what issue it’ll be that demotes Kriesel back to “just another Republican” to the Minnesota Independent.  There’s always something.

25 thoughts on “The Good Republican (As Of May 3)

  1. So according to Mr. Kreisel I have to change my theology so homosexuals can be happy. I would like Mr. Kreisel to experience the pain I felt when I was forced to leave my church because homosexual politics did exactly that.

  2. I haven’t spent a lot of time formulating this but it occurred to me as I read your post. How about this argument: it is a matter of fact, unpleasant to some, that same sex couples exist. Those couples often share property, defer professional advancement in order to stay home and raise a family. Yes, not biologically possible but nevertheless it happens. In the absence of civil union contracts to protect children and partners who are vulnerable to being left economically vulnerable, marriage provides that protection. My issue with the amendment propsed is that it makes no provision for those people. Well and good to dismiss them by saying they should have known better. The kids don’t have a choice. I’ve seen plenty of hetero couples who were piss poor parents. Unfortunately, you don’t need a license to breed. Lacking provisions for making civil unions the legal equivalent of marriage, the amendment makes no sense to me.
    I get that a lot of people have a problem with same sex marriage. Let your religious body define it however they wish. Live and let live.

  3. To echo K-rod’s oft stated phrase: “Whether you are hetero or homo, you have the exact same rights.” Whether you are gay or straight you have the same legal ability to marry a member of the opposite gender. Neither gay nor straight people have the legal ability to marry someone of the same gender. It isn’t about rights or discrimination.

    That said, you have to know that the morning after the votes are tallied, if the amendment passes, someone will be waiting in line for the doors to get unlocked so they can file a legal challenge with whatever court jurisdiction will preside initially. Which will take another 2-3 years to wind it’s way up to SCOMN and we get to find out whether, incredibly, an amendment voted on legally by the general population, can be found to be unconstitutional. Which will be a travesty of activist judiciary as bad as AZ’s SB1070 was.

  4. I think there is a better argument, which is that government, as the protectors of the society, has a vested interest in creating married couples and insuring the continuation of society. They rightly bestow certain benefits on “qualifying” unions that are not available to non-qualifying unions. Simple as that.

  5. “The gay movement’s current strategy is to take everything to court (or to radically “progressive” legislatures), and chant that everyone that opposes them is a “hateful” “bigot”.

    “an amendment voted on legally by the general population, can be found to be unconstitutional.”


  6. I believe that opposite sex marriage is rooted in natural (or organic) law, rather than any particular religious tradition.
    The old USSR was a dictatorship founded on and guided by the principles of atheism. Gay marriage was not recognized. Homosexual acts were criminalized until 1993.

  7. Let homosexuals draw up a contract and play house. That’s their right under the Minnesota Constitution. Otherwise, marriage stays as it’s always been throughout history.

  8. “…forbidding gays from forming civil contracts…”

    Mitch, let us know when that actually happens.

    Bill C, say it loud and say it proud!!! Freedom!!!
    Whether you are hetero or homo, you have the exact same rights.

    J Ewing, bingo.

    Nachman, bingo.

  9. You can’t be a libertarian and support changing the definition of marriage, as the gay crowd has pledged a scorched Earth policy. They has said they will destroy anyone and any institution that doesn’t submit. A libertarian wouldn’t support banning the Boy Scouts from public parks. Or closing down photography studies because they turned down a job to photograph a gay marriage. Or force a law firm to drop a client who supports traditional marriage.

    Would a libertarian say “I have no problem getting rid of the Bill of Rights because far be it from me to force free speach rights on society”?

  10. I’m surprised nobody gets bent about it from an English point of view: conflating unlike terms, making the language less exact, just to make one group of people happy. Imagine the word “like” being accepted as a stand-in for any punctuation as a sop to “valley girls”.

  11. Marriage does not provide protect from bad choices or misplaced trust. If civil unions are what is desired, then proponents should push for that.

  12. Capital-L libertarians have problems whenever they try to examine how Rand’s philosophy would work in the real world.
    Take the topic of intellectual property. Our founders followed the English Enlightenment tradition of basing intellectual property on desired public policy goals. Rand tried to base it on her weird idea of natural rights. Ask a libertarian who owns an idea and he or she can tell you, chapter and verse, what Rand said about it belonging to the person whose mind produced it.
    Then ask them who owns the idea if two people came up with it at the same time. Intellectual property is different in kind from real property. If Rand knew that she did not account for it.
    If intellectual property is a matter of public policy, rather than natural law, you can come to some reasonable accommodation — split ownership, perhaps — but Rand would have to hold that since each idea was was the product of an individual’s labor, each would have complete property rights to the idea, and this makes no sense at all.

  13. I find it hard to believe that a true libertarian-conservative wants the government involved in the sacred institution of marriage inthe first place. Government should stay the hell out of it and let religious bodies decide their own definitions. This issue is and has always been about civil marriage, not religious marriage. But if the real reason is using the issue as wedge politics and to get re-elected, the distinction doesn’t really matter with the exception of the instrusive big government theoocrats.

  14. Why does the state take a moral stand on any issue, Eric? States always have. It’s not a Judeo-Christian thing. Bringing about a state that takes no interest in the moral lives of its people (including their married lives) may be a libertarian goal, but it is too revolutionary to be considered conservative.

  15. I like to think of it as “marriage,” a civil institution, and “Holy Matrimony,” a religious sacrament. That makes it easy for me, a Catholic, to recognize the gays’ desires to be “married.” Other religious persuasions may not recognize “Holy Matrimony” but probably have another name, for it.

    The procreative union as a benefit to society argument doesn’t seem to hold water either. Many people who can’t procreate get married or remain married and society does not object. When all of the arguments in opposition to same-sex marriage are addressed, what remains if opposition continues? Misunderstanding? Bigotry? Fear?

    Mitch, are there credible surveys that indicate “a sharp majority of Minnesotans” are opposed to same-sex marriages? I wonder if such an amendment has a chance of being approved by Minnesotans. Beyond the argument for or against same sex marriage, there is the discussion of whether or not the state constitution is the correct place to “fix it.”

  16. From what I have observed over the years, I would have to say that even the most staunch liberals that I know, oppose same sex marriage. I have also observed that those “feelings” change if they actually know someone that is gay.

    My children have gay and lesbian friends, before that, my wife had a lesbian co worker and I have both gay friends and customers. Overwhelmingly, they are not on board with the radical gay organizations, as they think those organizations are hurting their chances on getting marriage legalized.

    On another note, I am always, to say the least, perplexed at the number of liberals that defend and support gay marriage and also support rights for radical Muslims. Even if you point out ot them that they are being hypocrritical in the sense that strict fundamentalist Muslims would kill a gay couple without hesitation if Sharia law was in force.

  17. Leslie Hittner said:

    “The procreative union as a benefit to society argument doesn’t seem to hold water either. Many people who can’t procreate get married or remain married and society does not object.”

    This “refutation” doesn’t seem to hold water.

    Imagine marriage as a “water bottle” (woman the vessel and man the cap) and procreation as “holding water”.

    You could call two vessels or two caps a water bottle, but neither would “hold water” like the real deal.

    And even if you never put water in a water bottle, wouldn’t it still call it a water bottle, or would you feel compelled to call it an “air bottle” despite it’s potential and intended use?

  18. If marriage is religious in nature, why is the state involved at all? Why non-religious civil marriage; why is a license required for a religious marriage? Let’s get the state out of the marriage business altogether and satisfy eveyone.

  19. I don’t agree with it, but I’m convinced that John reached his opinion honestly and without guile.

  20. Skip, this isn’t really about marriage. It’s about our culture, and a tiny minority that desperately wants to remake it.
    As I’ve said before, why build something when you can steal it?

  21. swiftee: Yup. There’s those with and without guile on both sides. I think the opponents are wrong — I think that governments recognizing contractual relationships between consenting adults, including opposite sex marriages (not exactly a burning issue), same sex marriages (the one that seems to be both happening all over the place and up for discussion) and multiple party marriages (I have some poly friends, although it’s very much not my cup of tea) is good policy — but at least many of those on both sides are being honest about where they stand.

    It’s the other thing that the French are right about (they rely heavily on nuclear power, and are much better able than we are to tell the Saudis, “kiss mon ass”): their law treats marriage as a civil contract, and doesn’t get involved in whether or not people want to have religious ceremonies.

  22. Government did not invent the institution of marriage. One would hope for a certain amount of caution in allowing the government to redefine marriage to suit its political goals.
    If it is all about contractual relationships, why stop at two people? Surely two people is no less arbitrary than male-female.

  23. If it’s all about contracts, why not just do the contracts? If you really need to put the “marriage” label on it, I think you want more than a contractual relationship: you want approval.

  24. Troy: exactly. They want approval.

    And they ain’t getting it, not from me.

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